How Matt Damon and the ‘Bourne’ Trilogy Cost Pierce Brosnan James Bond

Pierce Brosnan was the face of James Bond for many in the 90s and the very early 2000s. Unlike Daniel Craig’s later, more grounded Bond interpretation, Brosnan’s Bond was known for being more lighthearted and humorous in tone. But it was later decided that Brosnan was the wrong man to lead Bond into the less campy direction it was headed to.

However, Brosnan also admitted that Matt Damon and his Bourne trilogy helped cost him the role as well.

Pierce Brosnan believed that humor was important for James Bond

Pierce Brosnan doing a James Bond pose in a suit
Pierce Brosnan | OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/Getty Images

Daniel Craig’s James Bond steered away from Pierce Brosnan’s in several different ways. But Brosnan believed one of those ways was that his successor had a less humorous take to the character than he did. For the Black Adam star, Bond’s humor was important to a franchise Brosnan felt shouldn’t have taken itself so seriously.

“I knew they had to make adjustments. They had strong competition and they haven’t reinvented it, but given it a much more muscular, dynamic twist,” Brosnan once said according to NME.

Brosnan later emphasized the significance of humor in a James Bond movie.

“When I played [Bond], you have to let the audience in that this is a fantastic joke,” Brosnan said. “What I am doing here, jumping off a motorcycle and catching up a plane, is completely preposterous.”

Brosnan’s castmate, John Cleese who played Q in Brosnan’s Bond films, echoed this sentiment at an earlier time.

“I did two James Bond movies, and then I believe that they decided that the tone they needed was that of the Bourne action movies, which are very gritty and humorless,” Cleese told Radio Times (via Guardian).

Cleese went on to assert that Bond’s newfound humorless attitude had to do with the targeted international audience as well.

“Also the big money was coming from Asia, from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, where the audiences go to watch the action sequences, and that’s why in my opinion the action sequences go on for too long,” Cleese said. “The audiences in Asia are not going for the subtle British humor or the class jokes.”

Pierce Brosnan believed Matt Damon and his ‘Bourne’ trilogy helped cost him the role

After Brosnan’s last James Bond film Die Another Day, the actor was well aware that change was on the horizon for Bond.

“I knew there had been a seismic shift, and little did I know I was going to be part of that in the curtain falling on my contract,” Brosnan said as reported by NME.

Brosnan felt that Bond was in for a stylistic and cinematic makeover, and at the time he was prepared to tackle the challenges. He’d even met with Quentin Tarantino, who proposed rebooting the franchise and set it as a period piece. Tarantino planned to subvert expectations for the Bond franchise, and he wanted his favorite Bond, Brosnan, to star in his movie. But ultimately, plans fell through.

Part of the reason Brosnan couldn’t continue as Bond was because of Matt Damon. Damon ushered in a new era of spy movies led by an early 30s Matt Damon in a grittier franchise. Looking at all the variables, Brosnan knew that his time as Bond was essentially over.

“Once Paul Greengrass let Matt Damon out of the door in such an epic way, the spy genre turned on its head and my time was done,” Brosnan revealed according to Female First. “Because then you have a younger man there, and how are you going to move forward? And they (Bond bosses) couldn’t. If they were to do Casino Royale, they couldn’t do it with me. Choices were made. The decisions were drawn in the sand – albeit a little late in the day.”

‘Bourne Identity’ director once thought society moved past the James Bond era

Bond has been reinvented countless times over the decades to fit with a contemporary setting. But the Bourne Identity director, Paul Greengrass, once believed he thought society moved on from the Bond character completely.

“He loves his gadgets. And he embodies this whole set of misogynistic values,” Greengrass told Today about Bond. “Personally, I spit on those values. I think we’ve moved on a little bit from all that, the martini shaken, not stirred.”

Damon also noted how his Bourne character was the anti-James Bond.

“Bourne is this paranoid guy. He’s on the run. He’s not the government. The government is after him. He’s a serial monogamist who’s in love with his dead girlfriend and can’t stop thinking about her,” Damon said. “He’s the opposite of James Bond.”

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